Excitement builds with Wales just hours away from their first World Cup finals match in 64 years
Gareth Bale says the Wales squad are feeling the “buzz from back home” as the Dragons prepare to end a 64-year wait to play at the World Cup.
No nation has waited longer for successive World Cup appearances, with Wales’ last game at the tournament being their 1958 quarter-final defeat to Brazil.
Wales will mark their return against the United States on Monday, with around 3,000 fans having made the trip to Doha to support them at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
In Wales, fans will gather at venues throughout the country to watch the evening matches against the USA and England.
School timetables have been cleared for children to watch Friday’s second game against Iran, which kicks off at 10am GMT.
“We’re in our own little bubble so we don’t get to see too much here,” said Bale.
“But we see video and photos from back home, we can see the flags going up and everyone wearing their bucket hats and shirts.
“We feel the buzz here and hopefully we can make the country proud by winning some games and scoring some goals.
“At World Cups there’s never been a Wales flag, so it’s been difficult to have your team there.
“For the youngsters growing up having Wales in the World Cup is an incredible experience to have. One I wished that I had, but hopefully we can do them proud.”
Wales are in talks with FIFA and other football associations amid concerns that Bale could be booked at kick-off against the USA for wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband.
The Football Association of Wales has said it is prepared to be fined over the issue, with manager Robert Page saying at his pre-match press conference that Bale would wear the armband.
While that issue remains to be resolved, Bale is focused on leaving a legacy for Welsh football at the World Cup in Qatar.
He said: “It’s probably the biggest honour we could have for our country, qualifying for a World Cup, something we haven’t done in 64 years.
“It’s a massive piece of history in our country and something we have all wanted for a long time.
“We have the support of the nation back home, no matter what happens, as long as we give 100 per cent our country will love us for that.”
England and Iran will get Group B under way on Monday afternoon at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Page said: “You look at England and USA, and naturally people will talking about them as the top two, and then ourselves and Iran.
“But we know on our day, and we’ve proven in the Nations League against Belgium and against a very good Dutch team, that we can more than compete.
“We’re new to the tournament and there might be a few surprises along the way. There’s no pressure on us, we’re going to enjoy it, we’re going to compete.
“I’ve said to the group: ‘We’re not here to make the numbers up, we’re here because we’ve earned the right to be here, because we’re a good team, and I want to go and show the world how good we are’.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.